Expecting the call from Craig Robinson put a grin on my face. However, when I answered the phoned poised for our interview, I heard a man singing, and it sounded good. It was Craig and my conversation with the stand-up-comedian-turned-film-star began. We talked about his role in the new film, THIS IS THE END.
I had seen Robinson about two weeks prior during interviews for Tyler Perry’s WE THE PEEPLES. In that film, the Chicago native costarred with Kerry Washington as a couple in love but few people knew outside of them, particularly his future in-laws whose annual east coast summer bash he would crash.
Robinson, a former K-8 public school teacher was no stranger to me; I was a longtime fan of his character Daryl, a dry wit warehouse worker on NBC’s sitcom, “The Office,” of which the famed Second City Theatre alum has been a staple for years.
Now, the Los Angeles resident is known more for his film roles that are growing steady yet Robinson says he’s back hustling gigs since “The Office” is closed for business. The show has run its course after nine seasons.
Comedy is Robinson’s calling card and when work calls, he answers. He’s received numerous calls resulting in a slate of well-received features, among them, Judd Apatow’s: KNOCKED UP and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, HOT TUB MACHINE and SHREK FOREVER AFTER.
This time around, he’s answered the call for a no-holds-barred buddy film that makes you wince, scream, laugh, and gasp in the star-studded comedy, THIS IS THE END, the side-splitting unraveling of six friends trapped in a house after a series of strange and catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles. As the world unravels outside, dwindling supplies and cabin fever threaten to tear apart the friendships inside. Eventually, they are forced to leave the house, facing their fate and fears.
Our conversation follows–
Sandra Varner/Talk2SV: THIS IS THE END takes much of its subtext from the bible, particularly, the book of Revelation. Tell me about your early church going days.
Robinson: What do you want to know? I went to church, I directed the choir… was always in the choir, played (piano) for church, read the scriptures and delivered the sermon on my days off, just kidding.
Talk2SV: Oh, my goodness, are you serious? I didn’t expect to hear all that.
Robinson: Well, you got it.
Robinson: Well, the path goes through standup comedy. This movie theme is about having a sense of humor. Specifically, what would happen if Revelation really happened… imagining what would go down if it went down and what that would look like through these people’s eyes.
Talk2SV: This story reminded me of being a kid growing up in church, taught the bible but the book of Revelation scared the daylights out of you.
Robinson: Right, right. This movie is a frightening aspect to think about if that’s how it goes down.
Talk2SV: It begins –during an off-the-chain, with celebrity in-crowd partying types– at actor James Franco’s house. In real life, do you party like that?
Robinson: I might throw a party or something like that but I haven’t been to James Franco’s house. Yeah, we’ve been to a couple of parties where you see a bunch of people and people that you work with but I don’t think about it like the in-crowd… I just went to a party.
Talk2SV: Could it be you don’t think of it that way because you are now a part of the in-crowd in Hollywood?
Robinson: Well, there you go.
Talk2SV: As a stand-up comedian, describe your comedy routine.
Robinson: It’s me behind the keyboard saying silly things and singing sillier things.
Talk2SV: Allow me to me ask you a silly question. What does it feel like being Craig Robinson today?
Robinson: Um, I feel like I’ve got some work to do.
Talk2SV: In what areas?
Robinson: My comedy, my movies, I’ve got to get a job, you know .The Office just ended so after my next movie, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2, I’m going to have to find a job.
Talk2SV: It’s interesting that you would say that, reminds me of things we’ve heard from the likes of a Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman. Men who work all the time in this business but it seems that they’re always driven and thinking about the next job.
Robinson: Well, nothing is promised in Hollywood and it’s very fickle so you’ve got to hop on where you can. Talk about hearing stuff and scaring you, when you’re hot you’re hot, when you’re not, you’re not; all that stuff plays. You’ve got to get while the getting is good.
Talk2SV: Career-wise, what is the best part of being where you are right now?
Robinson: Um, the best part is awakening into a new territory, leading them and getting calls to do big talk shows. I’m relishing in that a little bit. Then, of course, I like being able to help somebody who is in search of advice on how to get into acting or whatever, being able to have some kind of answer to give them.
Talk2SV: What do you say to them?
Robinson: I tell them to get in (acting) class, that’s the first thing. Learn what you’re doing, go to class and make gigantic mistakes. Hop up and volunteer; do improv (isation), you know. But get that education about acting before you just hop into it. It looks easy and some argue that it is. People don’t want to hear what I’ll tell them, ‘… you have to go to school and you’ve got to learn how to do the stuff.’ But that’s the first thing I tell them.
Talk2SV: What do you want people to take away from THIS IS THE END? There are so many messages contained within this film, what for you is the biggest message?
Robinson: Um, message…live now.